Dorothy “Dori” Jean (Dietrich Brown) Gonzales
Dorothy “Dori” Jean Gonzales passed away peacefully on Saturday, October 12 at Bethany St. Joseph Care Center in La Crosse at the age of 90, with her daughter by her side. All of her children were able to spend precious time with her in her last days.
Dori was born on May 6, 1929 in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Jacob and Mollie (Ostermiller) Dietrich, the eighth of nine children. Her parents were proud and courageous immigrants, part of a large community of “Volga Germans” from Russia who settled in Lincoln. Her ancestors were originally invited to the Volga River region of Russia near Saratov by Catherine the Great in the 1700’s to bring their expertise and modernize farming in the area. After growing up in her large German family, Dori graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1950 with a diploma in nursing. Her first adventure was to move to Denver with her best friend, Bonnie, to start their careers. They planned to travel the U.S. working a few months at a time in various cities. One of her patients was a handsome WWII Navy veteran, Joseph “Bobb” Brown.He was serendipitously in the hospital for a work accident, and couldn’t resist asking her out on a date. They married on February 3, 1952, so she stayed in Colorado for the next fifty-seven years. Dori and Bobb raised their family in Arvada. Bobb died in 1980. Dori loved her nursing career, working many years at Lutheran Hospital in Wheat Ridge, in the newborn and neonatal intensive care unit. After the journey of Bobb’s cancer, she felt the call to work on the oncology floor. She completed her career doing nursing home inspections before retiring.
Dori married Andrew “Andy” Gonzales in 1984 and in retirement, they spent many years in their wonderful neighborhood in Loveland, CO where they made many good friends.
We’ll remember our mom as a determined and stubborn German soul complemented by her generosity to others. She was an excellent skater, who spent time on the ice whenever she could. She took great pride in keeping her home clean and orderly, a challenge with four messy kids in tight quarters. She was a working mother who always had dinner ready with detailed instructions for the family when she was at work. She saved a little money from every paycheck for five years so she could take the family to Hawaii. This dream trip became a reality for us during Christmas break of 1973. Though she was a very private person and an introvert, she loved to throw a good party, probably because of her enjoyment of the planning and execution. She loved music, especially from Broadway shows. She enjoyed watching figure skating, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and the Denver Broncos on television.
Dori is survived by her husband, Andy of Pueblo, CO, four children, Susan Bourdon-Anderson (Wayne Anderson) of Maple Grove, MN, Teresa “Terri” Brown (Harvey Schellenger) of Fountain Valley, CA, Bobbette “Bobbi” (Joe) Vandenberg of La Crosse, WI, Kurt Brown of Golden, CO, and one brother, Harold (Althea) Dietrich of Lincoln, NE. Dori was very proud of her six grandchildren and all their successes, Jill (Chris) Schierholz of Maple Grove, MN, Wesley Brown (Tabitha Brandt) of Denver, CO, Eric Schellenger of Seattle, WA, Kyle Schellenger of San Diego, CA, Patrick Vandenberg of Houston, TX and Mollie Vandenberg, a student in Malibu, CA. Dori loved seeing photos of her seven great-grandchildren, Ayva Burshem, Jay, Micah, and Leo Schierholz of Maple Grove, MN and Teddi Marquez, Peyton and Reign Brown of Denver. She had many nieces and nephews, including three special nieces, Marilyn Henery of Boise, ID, Carolyn Rhondeau of Crozet, Virginia and Denise Stuart of La Habra, CA. She is also survived by three step-daughters, Andrea (Mike) O’Brien of Denver, Karen (Rodney) Hegler of Pueblo, and Julie (Ryan) Fleiser of Pittsburgh, PA, and the rest of Andy’s extended family.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Bobb, son-in-law, Jay Bourdon, three older brothers, Karl (in infancy), Clifford and Carl and four older sisters, Helen Poore, Esther Boyle, Ruth Marz and her dear little sister, Shirley.
Our family would like to thank the wonderful staffs at Hillview Assisted Living and Bethany St. Joseph Care Center for their outstanding care of Dori over the last six years. Her last 20 months at BSJ gave her peace and a lot of joy with the staff. We couldn’t be more grateful for their loving care of Dori. We are very grateful to S. Jean Moore, FSPA, for her visit and Franciscan blessing of our mom. We would also like to thank Jordan Wegner of Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home for her compassionate service to our family.
Per Dori’s wishes, there will be no formal services. We will have a gathering of family and friends in the summer of 2020 to celebrate her life in her beloved mountains of Colorado.
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